Going into more detail:
Loss of hope and deepening poverty driving Syrians to seek refuge in Europe
September 25, 2015, By Ariane Rummery, Geneva
Taken and slightly edited from the United Nations High Commission for Refugees Website - http://www.unhcr.org/560558b06.html
GENEVA, Sept 25, (UNHCR) – The United Nations’ Refugee Agency today identified “loss of hope” and “appalling living conditions” as major factors behind the recent spike in the number of Syrian refugees seeking asylum (legal acceptance) in Europe. Around four million Syrian refugees are currently living in neighboring countries, but recent months there has been a marked increase in the number of those seeking refuge further afield, notably in Europe.
Amin Awad, Director of the United Nations Bureau for the Middle East and North Africa, said this was primarily because Syrian refugees are facing deteriorating living conditions in the countries where they are currently living, as well as of a loss of hope of ever being able to return home again. "Refugees face horrible living conditions, and restrictions in the…in the countries where they live … When people don't have proper shelter and are living on 45 cents a day of course they want to move," he told a press briefing in Geneva, adding: "Syrians are checking out from the neighboring countries."
There have now been almost 429,000 applications by Syrians to enter Europe since 2011, but due to the lack of reception facilities in Europe many of the most recent arrivals have yet to apply. "Refugees are having to adopt negative survival strategies – like child labor, dropping out of school, begging and prostitution. They need much more support," Awad, who is also the Regional Refugee Coordinator for the Syria Region, said. "These are societies that put a high value on education and now they are seeing their children out of school."
He stressed the situation would only end when a solution was found for Syria and the region stabilized. "Syria is burning; towns are destroyed and that's why people are on the move, that's why we have an avalanche, a tsunami of people on the move towards Europe… As long as there's no resolution in Syria and no improved conditions in neighboring countries, people will move," he state at the briefing at the UN's Geneva headquarters.
With Syria's crisis now into its fifth year with no solution in sight, hope is dwindling for many refugees. Feelings of uncertainty about the future are compounded by miserable living conditions, fueling a sense of despair and desperation. Refugees cite the high cost of living as a factor in deciding to stay or go. In many cases savings have been long depleted, precious valuables have been sold off and many refugees across the region live in miserable conditions, struggling to pay rent, feed their families, and cover their basic needs.
Aid programs for refugees and host communities in the region have been plagued by funding shortages. The current United Nations Syrian regional refugee plan is only 41% funded, which has meant cuts in food aid for thousands of refugees--while those that receive it have to survive on 45-50 cents a day. Many refugees in Jordan told the United Nations that food aid cuts were the “last straw” in their decision to leave the country.
Limited education opportunities were cited as a problem for Syrian refugees in Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon and Iraq. Education is highly valued among Syrians, who enjoyed free, mandatory schooling at home before the war. The deteriorating conditions that refugees face in exile are having a devastating impact on their education. In Jordan, some 20 percent of children are abandoning school in order to work, and in some cases girls are being forced into early marriage to earn money for their family to live. Some 90,000 Syrians of school age have no formal education, with 30,000 of those able to access only informal education, while the rest miss out completely.